2012 was a year of stepping up for me. I have been associated with iVolunteer for more than 5 years now and I have been talking part in various volunteering activities over the weekends, and while those have been very fulfilling and joyful, Prarthana from iVolunteer has been encouraging me to do something called impact projects. These projects are structured and organised efforts towards a particular goal of an NGO.
I got two such opportunities in 2012 and I will write briefly about them here:
The first was a project for Enable India. Enable India works for enabling differently able persons in their employment and post employment support. They were in a need to translate a huge amount of training material from English to Hindi as many of the candidates , specially from rural area were not able to follow the English instructions. Additionally they also had some text to be converted to audio files to help the visually impaired candidates. I decided to take this as a project and do it with the help of volunteers in my organisation – Logica (now part of CGI). On a single shout, 10-15 volunteers raised their hands and we started the project in April 2012. We completed this in about a month’s time well within the timeline expected by Enable India to start their training course. The volunteers enjoyed this experience where they could help in changing someone’s life from the comfort of their homes.
The second project was for OBLF (One Billion Literates Foundation), who work with the government schools to teach them English. This is done by employing and training women from the community around the school. These are called coordinators. While these women are given class room training on English, they have no opportunities to talk to someone in English in their environment and this was making speaking English a bit difficult to learn for them. We came out with an idea of attaching a volunteer to each of these coordinators to talk to them over phone in English everyday for about 5-10 minutes. A mail from iVolunteer generated tremendous response and a large number of volunteers came forward. We selected mostly women volunteers, so that the lady coordinators are more comfortable talking to them and we gave preference to non Kannada speaking volunteers, so that the coordinators are not tempted to switch to Kannada and are forced to keep the conversation in English. The project was launched in Nov 2012 and after a month everyone felt the difference in the English speaking skills and confidence level of the lady coordinators. The volunteers also developed personal bonds with their partner coordinators and we arranged a face to face meetings of the volunteers and coordinators so that they can see the face they have been talking to. This is another example of making difference without the need of coming out of your home or office.
This project also has a huge potential to be extended to many more scenarios where we can help in English speaking skills of large number of people living in remote areas.
I am quite satisfied with my activities in 2012 and will hopefully bring it to the next level in 2013.